Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
U.S. Department of Labor
SHREVEPORT, La. -- Caddo Parish Commission has paid $13,097 in back wages and has reinstated a wrongfully terminated employee after an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found violations of the Family and Medical Leave Act.
The investigation by the division’s New Orleans District Office found that the company violated the FMLA when it initially approved FMLA leave for an employee’s own serious health condition, but then failed to allow the employee to return to work after a short absence. The company did not meet its responsibilities to inform the employee of the company’s need for a fitness-for-duty medical certification for the employee to resume work and allowed the employee’s FMLA entitlement to run out. The employer then terminated the employee once it believed protections under the FMLA had expired. This wrongful termination resulted in lost wages and benefits.
“Flexibility for employees and their families when facing serious health conditions is a cornerstone of the FMLA,” said Cynthia Watson, regional administrator for the Wage and Hour Division in the Southwest. “Both employees and employers have rights and responsibilities under the FMLA. It is important for each to communicate and fulfill their responsibilities. The Wage and Hour Division is committed to enforcing the law and ensuring workers receive all the protections to which they are entitled under the FMLA.”
In addition to paying back wages, Caddo Parish Commission, a municipality that employs more than 365 people, has agreed to reinstate the employee to the original position with all benefits and to comply with the requirements of the FMLA in the future.
Since 1993, the FMLA has been a major component in the department’s effort to promote work-family balance, providing workplace protections for employees with a serious health condition, or who are caring for a covered family member with a serious health condition. The FMLA helps to ease the burden that can come with needing time away from work when faced with such an illness.
The FMLA entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave in a 12-month period for specified family and medical reasons with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave. Under certain circumstances, military family leave entitlements under the FMLA allow eligible employees up to 26 weeks of leave.
Under the FMLA, an employer is prohibited from interfering with, restraining or denying the exercise of—or the attempt to exercise—any FMLA right. Employers also are prohibited from discriminating or retaliating against an employee or prospective employee for having exercised or attempted to exercise any FMLA right. Specifically, an employer may not use an employee’s request for or use of FMLA leave as a negative factor in employment actions, such as hiring, promotions or disciplinary procedures.
For more information about the FMLA and other federal wage laws, call the Wage and Hour Division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243) or the division’s New Orleans District Office at 504-589-6171. Information also is available at http://www.dol.gov/whd.
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